Your lawyers since 1722

The growth of a greener India

In this blog post, Mr S Raghupathy of the Indian Green Building Council and the new Chair of WorldGBC’s Asia Pacific Regional Network, shares his views on the rise of green buildings across the country.

I still vividly remember, 16 years ago, when a small group of green building enthusiasts huddled in a conference room in Chennai to establish the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC). Our vision was to enable a sustainable built environment for all and to help India become one of the global leaders in green buildings.

Since that day in 2001 when IGBC was established as part of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), I have had the pleasure of witnessing the evolution, growth and spread of the green building movement in India. I am delighted that I continue to be part of this glorious and inspiring journey. Today, IGBC has 1,875 members and the support of 23 local chapters, is playing a catalytic role in spearheading the green building movement in India.

Our first major milestone came in 2003 when the CII-Godrej GBC building in Hyderabad became India’s first platinum-rated green building. It was the greenest building at that point in time and this distinction really marked the start of the green building movement in India.  It was encouraging to see how the Indian construction industry could design its own growth path towards sustainability. What started as one project in 2003, has now grown to over 4,500 IGBC registered projects, amounting to over 4.53 billion sq ft of footprint, spread across five climatic zones of the country. India is now among the top five countries in the world in terms of largest registered green building footprint, and IGBC represents around 90 per cent of the market share of this registered footprint.

So how did we get there?

Highlighting a clear business case has been instrumental. We have demonstrated that constructing a green building is technically feasible and economically viable. Although the incremental costs are still around 3 to 5 per cent, these additional costs are paid back within two to three years, with a substantial reduction in operational costs. By 2020, we forecast that the construction costs for a green building will be less than a conventional building.

IGBC has launched over 20 rating systems to address different building typologies and national priorities, including energy efficiency, water conservation, the handling of household waste, reduced use of fossil fuels, reduced dependence on the use of virgin materials, and the health and wellbeing of building occupants.

We have also facilitated a market transformation. Most of the products and technologies which we previously had to import are today readily available within our country, with an estimated market size of USD 300 billion by 2025. Growing awareness within the industry and from end users has increased the demand for greener products, technologies and buildings. Building on this, CII has launched a green product certification, GreenPro, to ensure that green solutions meet our quality standards. GreenPro is based on a lifecycle approach to certifying products, and over 150 products are currently GreenPro certified.

This concept has also been extended to companies, with CII’s GreenCo rating system. This robust evaluation process rates companies on their environmental performance through ten parameters – such as the use of renewable energy, waste management, energy efficiency and emissions reductions. More than 250 companies are working on GreenCo.

And IGBC is also paving the path towards net zero buildings. We can take pride in designing some of the finest and most futuristic projects in the world. IGBC has helped to deliver eight net zero energy buildings (four commercial and four residential buildings) and we are developing an exclusive Net Zero Certification programme through WorldGBC’s Advancing Net Zero project. This programme is expected to be launched in mid-2018.

At times, our perseverance and optimism have been put to the test. But we reminded ourselves that we must keep going – for the benefit of both the Indian people, and for our planet. And the results have been there for us to relish.

Our focus for the future is on ensuring buildings are as green as possible, hence our commitment to net zero carbon buildings, and to green buildings of different varieties and scales, from offices, homes and schools, to villages, townships and entire cities. We hope that by 2022 – the 75th year of India’s independence – India will be recognised as a global leader in green buildings.

I am also honoured to be Chairing the WorldGBC’s Asia Pacific Regional Network of Green Building Councils in 15 countries. Whilst these countries are diverse, each with their own unique challenges and opportunities, there are many similarities too – not least our shared mission of fighting climate change through green building. I look forward to harnessing the collective strength and enthusiasm of the network to achieve this goal.

Mr S Raghupathy is Deputy Director General of the Confederation of Indian Industry and leads the Indian Green Building Council. He is a Board Member of WorldGBC, and Regional Chair of WorldGBC’s Asia Pacific Regional Network.

IGBC is hosting WorldGBC Members’ Day, AGM, Established CEO Network meeting, Board and Corporate Advisory Board meetings in Jaipur in October, alongside its annual Congress. Click here to register.